I Learn a Little More About my Mom’s Childhood Past is the fiftieth chapter of Zak Saturday's Immortal Love Life. It was first published on February 19, 2016.
I found my parents at home. I guess they ended their beach vacation early.
“Mom?” I called.
“Sarah, you’re here,” she replied, coming out into the living room. “How’d it go?”
“Ok. Can I talk to you?”
“I’ll leave you two alone,” Dad said, and he left the room.
“Mom, I’m sorry about yelling at you the way I did earlier,” I said.
She held up her hand. “It’s ok. I kind of don’t blame you. Just be glad I’m not like my mom. She never would’ve let you yell at her like that, especially not in public.”
“You don’t talk about her much. What happened between you two?”
“Sarah, you know I don’t like talking about my past, especially not my childhood past.”
Mom sighed. “Fine. As you may have already heard me say many times before, my family was full of shit. My mom and I got along ok, but my relationship with her was nowhere near like my relationship with you. I didn’t want us to have that kind of mother-daughter relationship. I just wanted to get as far away from her as I could.”
Mom’s expression tightened. “My mom wasn’t a very easy person to like. Of course, I guess I’m not either, which is where I get it from, but I’m not that hard to get along with. And my mom did to me I would never do to you.”
“Are you saying she abused you?” I asked.
“No,” Mom replied angrily, like she’s been asked that before and doesn’t like it. “I mean, my mom would smack sometimes, but only when I deserved it, and it rarely ever happened.”
“Was there a time she did smack you when you didn’t deserve it?” “Well, my mom told me about one time that she had smacked me when I was little for something that she thought I did, but it was my twin brother that actually did it, and she regretted smacking me. She doesn’t remember what it was about, and I don’t remember it at all. I mean, I do remember something when I was seven, but I don’t remember her deciding that I had done it, and I especially don’t remember her smacking me for it. And she found out that my brother had done it just a few days after it happened, but she said she found out months later, so they must’ve been different instances. But she was sorry for smacking me because she thought I did it. But that’s why I don’t do anything physical to you or Zack when you do something wrong so that if it turns out you didn’t do it, I wouldn’t feel guilty for inflicting pain on you. And I deal with abused children all the time, so that helps too, because it really pains me to think of ever doing anything like that to my own children. But, anyway, no. My mom never abused me. I may have felt like I was emotionally abused by her, because she was very impatient, but just because I felt that way, doesn’t mean that I actually was. Even now, I’m not sure. But my mom was a good mom. She protected me and my brothers, even if it was a pain in the ass. But I very rarely ever got away from her, especially since I was homeschooled. The only thing I kind of always had to get away was bowling, which is probably another reason why I like it so much. And my first job, too.”
“Didn’t you have some friends?” I asked.
“Well, a lot of the kids in the neighborhood I lived in most of my childhood didn’t like me,” Mom said. “And I did have one friend that I lost twice, which my mom blames me for because I told her what happens in my life. And I had a couple of other friends, one who lived in a different state, but I wasn’t that close with either of them. I just kept to myself most of the time. Any problems I had I dealt with on my own. I was lonely, but I never really felt lonely. I actually liked being alone, because I didn’t feel like I was ever left alone. I never liked talking about anything serious, and I still don’t. Like right now with this conversation.”
“What about your dad?” I asked.
“I wasn’t that close with my dad, either,” Mom said. “He always stayed out of certain situations if he could, and he wasn’t helpful when he didn’t. He died a little less than a month before my sixteenth birthday.”
“Major heart attack. He was a heavy smoker, which is why I don’t like smoking either. My dad was an ok father, but he was a terrible, lying, husband to my mom. God, I wish she divorced him. She would yell at him every damn day. But she never did.”
“Because she loved him as her husband, but not as a person. But if she did divorce him, she wouldn’t have had to deal with his shit anymore. Except for maybe with us. Well, at least she was finally free of him when he died, sort of, but I still had to listen to shit about it.”
“So you hated your mom because of that?”
“I never said I hated her,” Mom said. “And I didn’t. I loved her. She was my mom, but we had some problems. I had a lot of repressed anger toward her. I was glad to have finally grown up and get the hell away from everybody.”
“What about your brothers?” I asked.
“Most of them pretty much did the same thing and left as well, never spoken to again. I don’t know what any of them did and I didn’t care. Well, actually, when I was in my forties, after I became the Protector of America, I arrested one of my brothers in California.”
“Does it matter? I arrested my own brother, who I hadn’t seen or spoken to since our dad died almost thirty years before then.”
“Did you know it was him?”
“Well, he did look familiar to me, but my powers confirmed it.”
“Did he recognize you?”
“Not until I told him. But it doesn’t matter anymore. I just want to forget it all. I wanted it to be different. I wanted my family to be different from my other family, half of whom are criminals, or at least, have some kind of criminal record. So I made a mental note on what to do with my husband and children.”
“Like what?” I asked.
“Well, since you’re my daughter, I’m just going to tell you the children part. The thing is, when my child is angry and yelling at me, I try to calm him or her down instead of yelling back at them and making the situation worse than it already is. I would also let them have a say in anything involving them, depending on what it is of course, and try to compromise with them. I also try to bond with my children by doing things that they like to do with them. And any kind of chore the kids do, I help them with as well. Have I done all of that, Sarah?”
I nodded. “Yeah, that sounds pretty much right.”
Mom smiled. “Since you’re my daughter you could just be saying that to avoid getting shit, not that I would give it to you. That’s what I did sometimes, and kind of still do, whether I mean it or not.”
“Mom, I do mean that one-hundred-percent.”
And I do.
“I would say that too when I was questioned,” she said. “Though not in those exact words. But I believe you. It seems to work. But my husband plans haven’t all worked. At least not with your dad. With Nick, they did. But he knew how I was before we even started dating officially.”
“He must’ve made a mental note on how he should treat you.”
“Yeah, and the first thing he probably knew that he should never do is argue with me, because it’s pointless once I’ve made up my mind and I always tend to win.”
“Yeah, but you sometimes threaten Dad.”
“Only when I can’t think of anything else to do. Well, it’s really hard to threaten an Immortal. Let’s get back our current conversation. Another thing that really touches me about our family is how well you and Zack get along. I’ve never seen any brother and sister get along anywhere near as well as you two get along. Especially not in my family, or even with me and my brothers. I mean, you and Zack stick up and by each other through almost anything. It was practically the opposite for us. We would always blame each other to keep ourselves out of trouble. I doubt that it’s anything I did to cause you and Zack to be such a good brother-sister team. I know that it’s faltered a little bit now that you two are dating other people, but it’s still strong, and I’m proud of both of you for that.”
I smiled. “You should’ve saved that for when he was here.”
“You’re probably right,” Mom said. “Let’s get on that subject now, though I really don’t want to.”
“Because it’s not good.”
My eyes narrowed. “What do you mean?”
Mom took a deep breath. “Remember when I told you that teenage boys have been disappearing all over the country lately?”
I nodded. “Yeah.”
“Well, most of those teenage boys have returned to their homes earlier.”
“What happened to them?”
“Basically what we suspected. They were kidnapped and raped continually. They’re probably going to need a lot of family support and serious therapy.”
“How did they get free?”
“Some people like us—Nikki, Nicole, and their family—finally found them.”
“What about Zack?”
Mom’s expression pained. “I asked one of the boys that were rescued if he saw him, and he said yes.”
I started to cry. “So that means he was—”
“Yeah,” Mom said, also crying.
“Where is he?”
“This is the bad part. The men managed to get away, taking a couple of the boys with them, and Zack was one of them.”
“So he was found, but he was taken again.”
I was really crying now. “So what now?”
“Well, these men were the same men who raped me almost eighty years ago. They were holding the boys hostage in the Immortal world, not on earth, and that world is at least twice as big. Nikki, Nicole, and your half-siblings will continue to look for him there. I haven’t been to that world much. I have no idea what’s there, so I wouldn’t be any help in finding him.”
“So what are you going to do?” I asked.
“Well, I don’t want to just sit here and wait to find out what happens to him,” Mom replied. “So I was thinking of helping Doyle.”
She looked at me like she was silently asking me for permission.
“You can go,” I said.
She smiled. “I was going to go whether you told me I could or not. And I did help him a little bit after running into him in London, before the nagas attacked Manhattan.”
“Ok. But why with Doyle?”
She sighed. “I don’t know. There’s something about doing this with him that feels so familiar, something I’ve missed for a long time.”
“Was it something you had done with Nick?”
“Kind of. I mean, Doyle’s not Nick in any way, but in some ways he is similar to him.”
“I don’t know. Helping Doyle with this is kind of like how Nick would help me, especially after I became the Protector of America, and I guess this is partly my way of repaying him somehow.”
I felt a little guilty about that. I wanted to tell her that Nick was alive, but with the drama that was happening right now with my twin brother, I just couldn’t add that onto her. Not yet, anyway.
“Well, then, I guess have fun,” I said.
“You too,” Mom replied.
“But Mom, before I go, can you tell me why you guys were in Mexico earlier?”
“Your dad wanted us to relax for at least one day. I objected at first, but he got me to agree to it.”
“There’s something that rarely ever happens. But it’s like he doesn’t care that Zack’s gone.”
“It may seem that way, Sarah, but you know he does care. I think he just hates how he can’t do anything to help.”
“Well, that’s not our fault.”
“I know,” Mom said. “You should go now.”
“Ok,” I said. “I guess I’ll see you—”
“Wait. I just remembered something from earlier.”
She had a serious look on her face. “Sarah, Shillow said that she smelt alcohol from you. Have you been drinking?”
I hesitated. “Yes.”
Mom sighed. “How long?”
“A little over a week.”
“To help with Zack being gone.”
“Sarah, drinking doesn’t help you at all.”
“How would you know? Have you ever drank before?”
“No. But I’ve dealt with a drunk before, and I’m not just talking about your dad.” “Who are you talking about?” “Well, you remember me telling you that Nick was also an alcoholic, how he was worse than your father?” “How?” “He raped me one time, Sarah.” I stared at her. “And you married him?” “It was a few years before we were married, but yes,” she replied. “With Nick, it was kind of between rape and consent, because I had strong feelings for him then as he did for me, but I didn’t like it. It was not him. I wouldn’t believe a lot of bad things someone could accuse him of unless he was drunk when he did them. He was that dangerous when he drank, which is why, if we ever went out and he got a drink, I had to really watch him and cut him off, not that he minded, because he really understood it. But, other than Nick, we’ve both seen what people do when they’re drunk. I mean, look at your dad. To him, drinking helps him, but it really doesn’t. It just makes things worse. And for you? Sarah, you’re not even of age. Usually, I would know when someone underage us about to drink and I would stop them before they do. But not this time, for some reason. Sarah, you have to stop. It doesn’t help you at all.”
“That’s what you think.”
I used my powers and teleported away.
I put a very tiny tracking device inside Zak a few days ago so that I would be able to find him wherever he was. It was transmitted to my phone.
I checked where he was right now and headed there. I went inside of the airship and went in the back before any of them noticed me.
I was crying. I summoned a bottle of vodka to my hands and began to drink it. I didn’t care what my mom said. It helps me. Especially now that I know for sure Zack is being tormented in the worst way possible.
I cried even more thinking about that. I just want my twin brother back.
I’m all right, Sarah.
Wow. This was an intense chapter.
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- Shillow Hollinger (mentioned)